Voigtlander Bessa is a scale medium format camera equipped with a Braunschweig Voigtar 1:3,5 F=10,5cm lens built into a Compur-Rapid shutter. Bessa was produced for a very long time, and was equipped with various lenses. Among them were:

  • Skopar
  • heliar
  • Voigtar (Anastigmat Voigtar)
  • others

The release of the camera has begun in 1929 year and continued even after the war. The year of release can only be determined approximately, since there is some consistency in the zoo of modifications. In particular, according to the presence of a sports viewfinder under the cover, the absence of a sync contact, the number on the shutter and some other little things, the year of production is approximately between 1938 and 1939.

Voigtlander Bessa Braunschweig Voigtar 1938-1939 (review)

The camera shown in the photo has:

  • Lensed sports eye-level viewfinder whose cover opens automatically when the camera door is fully open (from 1937 to 1945)
  • equipped with a framing frame not only for 6x9, but also for 4,5x6 (since 1937)
  • viewfinder for shooting from the waist, the so-called "TLR, Brilliant" (since 1929, but in combination with a lensed sports viewfinder in Bessa, it has been used since 1930)
  • the shutter is equipped with a self-timer and an extended shutter speed range (speed 1/200, 1/400), which were not available in all cameras
  • the Compur-Rapid shutter number is 5185389 and соответствует 1938-1939 years of release
  • shutter release on the bottom door (from 1935)
  • shutter has no sync contact (1929-1945)
  • despite the fact that the lens is Voigtar 3,5 / 10,5cm, I think it is a fast aperture Voigtar Anastigmat. Fortunately, there are no other Voigtars with similar characteristics.

Voigtlander Bessa Braunschweig Voigtar 1938-1939 (review)

In general, despite the fact that the camera is pumped for those times, and approximately dates from the period 1938-1939, it is not rare and is not particularly valued. Well, at least for Collectiblend you can count on an honest hundred bucks for a Bessa in amazing condition. Of course, the information on that site is clearly for reference, since these cameras can be found at any foreign flea markets for $ 300.

Voigtlander Bessa Braunschweig Voigtar 1938-1939 (review)

For those who used Soviet folding medium format cameras, the design is familiar. When folded, the camera does not take up much space. For unfolding, you need to use the button on the bottom next to the film advance handle, and to assemble it, just press the bar under the lens on the door, and the camera is instantly assembled. In cheaper versions, Bessa was not equipped with a button and a bar under the shutter lens, and was assembled by pressing the door guides. Bessa was also produced with an unmarked scale on the lens, but with pictograms applied instead of distances.

Voigtlander Bessa Braunschweig Voigtar 1938-1939 (review)

Focusing was carried out according to the scale on the lens, and the calculation of the depth of field is marked on a plate nailed to the rear wall of the camera. By the way, in German, the single word “Tiefenscharfentabelle” literally means “table of depth of field”.

Voigtlander Bessa Braunschweig Voigtar 1938-1939 (review)

The Compur-Rapid shutter is a quiet central shutter with aperture and shutter blades mounted between the lens elements. Yes, the shutter and aperture on this camera use different blades. The shutter is very technologically advanced, like all the central shutters of those times. It is very compact, has many parts and springs in the mechanism. Only high-speed shutter speeds and self-timer work on this Bessa. Long exposures have become very long. Most likely the springs are tired, and it would be nice to replace them or service the shutter.

Voigtlander Bessa Braunschweig Voigtar 1938-1939 (review)

Sighting and framing can be done in two ways - through the external belt-type viewfinder of the "Brilliant" type, or use a lensed sports frame viewfinder. Frame, in my opinion, is more convenient to use, because it gives at least some idea of ​​​​the composition of the frame. The belt one is, firstly, square, and secondly, it is not very clear what is happening in it.

Voigtlander Bessa Braunschweig Voigtar 1938-1939 (review)

The camera is loaded with 120-type film in spools with a leader, there are red glass windows on the rear door for reading the frame number on the leader. The shutter cocking is not aligned with the film, so multiple exposures are available an infinite number of times.

Voigtlander Bessa Braunschweig Voigtar 1938 1939 gg obzor 18

There is abrasion and scratches on the lens on the back of the lens, right in the center. When shooting in side light, scratches give black spots in shape that follow the contours of scratches. But despite the fact that the camera is essentially not workable, the thing is interesting and looks very exclusive.

Voigtlander Bessa Braunschweig Voigtar 1938-1939 (review)

A working lens on the native frame gives good image quality, has good sharpness, but on the open frame it is a little soft.


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